Patient satisfaction is realized by seeking views from patients regarding their expectations and experiences when using healthcare services. Patient satisfaction helps healthcare providers to offer services that suit the individual preferences and needs of their patients. It makes health care more personalized to meet the unique needs of each individual patient who seeks medical services from any healthcare provider. Patient centered care involves the improvement of patients’ awareness through civic education (Walburg, 2006, p. 63). The physical comfort, personal support and use of positive treatment procedures, which a patient experiences while in a health care facility, help a patient to get satisfied with the quality of the services offered in it.
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Patients in health care facilities need to be involved in choosing diagnostic procedures that can bring about positive results. Physicians and other health workers need to involve their patients when making important medical decisions to ensure that they get the best services possible. Patients who visit health care facilities are drawn from different backgrounds. Health workers need to respect the values and preferences of their patients during treatment. Shared decision making helps a patient to value the quality of the services that are offered within a healthcare setting. Walburg (2006) insists that patients do assess the quality of service they get from different healthcare providers and how it impacts on their wellbeing (p. 68). The experiences they get in different medical centers have an impact on their judgment regarding service quality and satisfaction.
The quality of the medical services offered in many instances is used to benchmark the level of satisfaction a patient gets after visiting a particular medical facility. Patients do not have the necessary skills to measure the technical competency of the workers of a particular health provider. Patients rely on their emotional feelings and the personal interactions that they have with the workers of a particular medical facility. Many patients interpret positive experiences through the manner in which services are offered to them. It is not always easy for health workers to satisfy all the demands and needs of the patients. However, it is important for physicians to carry out surveys in their medical facilities to evaluate the level of patient satisfaction (Walburg, 2006, p. 73).
Physicians can use surveys to identify areas that need improvement in health provision. These assessments are able to measure the level of satisfaction that patients get regarding services offered to them. Physicians need information from patients who disclose their experiences within a healthcare setting and should establish how these experiences need to be improved. A survey that gathers information on the level of satisfaction that patients get in a certain health care facility shows the true feelings and attitudes of patients toward the services offered. An effective survey needs to be brief and clear to help patients understand its contents easily. Walburg (2006) argues that the survey should be consistent and should cover all the expected areas that have a bearing on patient satisfaction (p. 77). A survey should measure the patients’ perceptions and attitudes regarding the experiences they get when using services that are offered by a particular health provider.
An effective measurement tool must be able to find out whether the services provided respond to the needs of each individual patient or not. The measurement tool should be prepared to deliver outcomes that can help strengthen the quality of medical services in the medical facilities under study. The measurement tool needs to evaluate the level of participation of patients in decision making and how this improves the dispensation of treatment. The health workers who are involved in the care of patients should be made aware of the measurement procedures undertaken to determine the level of patient satisfaction (Walburg, 2006, p. 81). They should be made aware of the benefits of measuring patient satisfaction and how it can help to improve the services offered within the health care facility. It is crucial for health care facilities to have employees who are aware of the needs of their patients and how they can be met.
Walburg (2006) argues that the measurement criteria to be undertaken should find out if patients are satisfied with the quality of services they get from the medical facilities (p. 85). It should also be able to assess if the patients have easy access to treatment and other services that are offered within a particular health care facility. This helps to evaluate the effectiveness of services offered by the health care facility in meeting the expectations of the patients. The measurement criteria should also find out if physicians and staff in the facility have good interpersonal relations with the patients who visit the facility. All these factors create an impression on the attitudes of patients and these ultimately have a big impact on their satisfaction.
The questions that are asked should be focused to provide clear responses on specific issues that are being covered. The use of scales in measuring patient satisfaction makes it easy to analyze and interpret findings. A typical scale can classify the opinions of patients regarding experiences of care received into several categories ranging from excellent to poor. This scale gathers data in form of opinions that patients give regarding their experiences in a particular healthcare setting. This should be uniform for all questions that are to be asked to ensure that all results are easily comparable. The questions should be open-ended to make the respondent offer more information regarding the specific issues being highlighted (Walburg, 2006, p. 87). The gathered data should be analyzed by competent individuals who have the skills to tabulate correct results that are in harmony with the findings.
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The relationship patients have with doctors and health workers is crucial in helping them to achieve quality outcomes. There should be a match between the needs of the patient and the technical quality of the medical team that works within a medical facility to ensure the system runs smoothly. The approach used by health service providers to achieve patient satisfaction should go beyond the clinical aspects of treatment, which have been given more emphasis in the recent past. The social, psychological and emotional consequences of a health condition of a patient should also be given adequate attention by the health workers (Walburg, 2006, p. 103). The treatment procedures followed should provide a patient with the necessary comfort that is needed to withstand the suffering and pain that are associated with being ill.
There is a need to improve the collection of information from patients to understand their backgrounds properly before they receive healthcare services. The individual information that shows various attributes of a client gives health workers adequate knowledge of procedures needed to bring positive outcomes for the patient. Sitzia and Wood (1997) emphasize that medical facilities need to have reliable records that provide accurate information about the backgrounds of their patients (p. 1830). These records can show the occurrence of any recurring symptoms in patients who visit the medical facility. This approach makes a patient realize the value that the medical facility attaches to his or her recovery. This enables the patients to acquire positive perceptions regarding a particular medical facility. Patients prefer seeking medical attention from sensitive health care workers who understand their plight and offer them the humane support they need for a quick recovery.
A patient who is satisfied is easy to convince to follow a particular treatment procedure. Patients are encouraged by physicians who show a high level of dedication toward their recovery; this makes them more cooperative. These patients collaborate with their physicians to analyze the potential areas that need to be improved. Such collaboration makes health workers get proper information that helps in planning effective programs that meet the needs of the patient (Sitzia &Wood, 1997, p. 1835). The feedback offered by the patients is used as a guide by medical facilities to implement specific policies that make the stay of sick persons who are admitted in them memorable and comfortable.
Patients who are not satisfied with the services offered to them in a healthcare setting have to be convinced or compelled for them to use the facility again. Hospitals and medical facilities should implement effective complaints procedures, which track the issues that patients feel need to be improved. Complaint procedures should be able to include suggestions for improvement as proposed by the aggrieved patients. Hospitals can benefit from these suggestions as these can be used carry out improvements in health service policy. Sitzia and Wood (1997) state that health care facilities should have constant quality improvement procedures, which ensure that the services offered by their medical personnel are of a high standard (p. 1839). Health care facilities should encourage dissatisfied clients to offer their opinions freely for them to understand the specific areas of service delivery that need to be improved.
Patients need to be involved in making decisions about the type of treatment they receive and the procedures that are used to discharge treatment. Patients should be made aware of the options of treatment that they can choose from and the effect of the decisions they make on their health. Patients should be told the risks that are involved in the medical procedures that are used and the ways through which they can minimize such dangers. Involvement of patients in their treatment helps caregivers to understand their specific needs and expectations regarding the procedures used (Shelton, 2000, p. 87).
Health care facilities need technologically advanced equipment to attract highly skilled and specialized staff. Patients are attracted to a facility with a wide range of specialists who have expertise in diverse fields of medicine. Shelton (2000) argues that facilities that have advanced equipment are likely to satisfy the expectations of their patients compared to those that do not (p. 93). Such health institutions have a higher safety record, which gives them an edge over other competing health care facilities that offer substandard services. They are also likely to have more patient referrals from other facilities that do not have advanced medical equipment. Such health institutions able to guarantee the patient a higher quality of care and success in recovery compared to the other substandard facilities. Health care facilities should be aware of the constant changes in medical technology and how they can benefit from them.
Health workers should be transparent to patients; health care facilities are costly to run and some patients may suffer from diseases that cannot be treated properly within a specific health care facility. Physicians need to make patients aware of the medical procedures that need to be done and if the facility has enough equipment to conduct such procedures. Patients who need specialized care in a health care facility that does not have adequate equipment should be referred to other institutions that guarantee a higher quality of treatment (Shelton, 2000, p. 95). Physicians should encourage patients to pursue treatment in other facilities, which guarantee a higher chance of recovery for medical conditions that are beyond the hospital’s ability.
Medical facilities should understand the unique attributes of patients and how they react to different situations. Health workers should be patient when dealing with difficult patients to understand how to serve them effectively. Shelton (2000) stresses that health workers need to have the necessary communication skills for them to interact with clients from diverse cultures, races and religious affiliations effectively (p.106). Difficult clients may face a simple problem, which can be solved through careful explanation of the procedures used, without disclosing it to anyone. Health care facilities should encourage dialogue between their workers and patients to limit cases of spiteful interactions. Difficult patients need to be treated with utmost courtesy to make them feel at ease with the medical personnel.
Health care facilities should invest in quality improvement systems for the level of patient satisfaction to improve. All employees in a facility need to be competent in handling patient issues. Health care facilities need to train their employees to be multi-skilled to ensure that they interact positively with clients. The employees should keep tabs with the current information and should give satisfactory answers to the patients’ questions (Shelton, 2000, p. 112). It is also important to encourage workers to consult and refer patients to their colleagues who have a better understanding of the problem he or she is facing. The interactions that patients have with the health workers shape their attitudes and perceptions regarding the quality of medical care they receive. For them to feel satisfied, patients like associating themselves with kind medical personnel.
Medical facilities should have value based systems, which quantify the level of satisfaction their patients get. Patients highly value aspects such as safety, hygiene, cost, comfort and duration spent at the facility. It is important for health care facilities to encourage feedback from patients regarding the experiences they get at their centers. The feedback process should not be misconstrued by the health workers in a particular facility. Shikiar and Rentz (2004) argue that health workers need to be assured of the importance of patient satisfaction and ways through which it can be achieved (p. 210). Any program that targets to improve the level of satisfaction patients get in a health care facility should consider the input of health workers within that setting.
The working conditions of workers need to be good for them to be motivated to achieve positive results. The improvement of work environments in medical facilities contributes significantly to the level of satisfaction a patient is likely to experience. It is necessary for health workers to perform their duties in an environment that is conducive to ensure that they pass on their positive experiences to patients. However, healthcare institutions should not cede all their authority to make decisions to patients. Some patients may not be aware of what they want; as a result, they may not be willing to undergo procedures that are painful even if they guarantee recovery (Shikiar & Rentz, 2004, p. 211). Physicians and nurses have the technical competence required to assess the effective remedies that can help to solve the problems patients are facing.
Access to medical services in medical facilities needs to be improved for patients to feel satisfied. Easy access to treatment and availability of health workers improve the confidence that patients have in a particular medical facility. Shikiar and Rentz (2004) stress that it is necessary for medical facilities to improve the quality of services they offer to make patients have confidence in their policies (p. 213). Health care facilities need to allow patients to have flexible payment methods, which help them to get treatment and care without being restricted by the cost. Health care facilities should implement policies that improve efficiency and encourage easy access by patients.
There is a need for health care facilities to shift their focus from profit making to customer care and satisfaction. Hospitals need to collect information from their patients regarding their views on the way they are handled (Shikiar & Rentz, 2004, p. 214). This information can be crucial in developing effective policies, which guide hospitals on how to meet the expectations of their clients effectively. Patients who understand how they are valued by a particular health care facility are likely to make repeat visits. Successful hospitals are achieved through being responsive to the patients’ needs.
Shelton, P. (2000). Measuring and improving patient satisfaction. New York, NY: Aspen Publishers.
Shikiar R., & Rentz, A. M. (2004). Satisfaction with medication: An overview of conceptual, methodologic, and regulatory issues. Value Health, 7, 204-215.
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Sitzia J., & Wood, N. (1997). Patient satisfaction: A review of issues and concepts. Soc Sci Med., 45(12), 1829-1843.
Walburg, J. (2006). Performance management in healthcare. New York, NY: Routledge.